A Oklahoma County prosecutor called on jurors Thursday to convict a teen accused of setting a deadly fire, saying he was under the influence and unruly before lighting a series of fires.
The attorney for Tristan Owen, though, told the jury there is no evidence linking him to the July 13, 2011, fire that killed Boyd and Doris Haynes as they slept in their south Oklahoma City home.
“I can tell you their testimony will not support the evidence in this case,” defense attorney Francis Courbois said in his opening statement. “I expect the evidence is not going to connect him with the house.”
Owen, 17, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson.
The couple died of smoke inhalation, just a few hours before they were scheduled to move into an assisted living facility. Boyd Haynes was 87 and his wife was 86.
Owen is accused of starting a fire inside a trash container outside the couple's garage that spread to the structure. The couple's son was helping them pack and moved the container next to the house, Assistant District Attorney David Nichols told the panel.
Nichols, in his opening statement, said friends of the defendant will testify that he was drinking and taking pills and was asked to leave a gathering because he was “acting unruly.”
Two of those friends will say they saw Owen — then 15 — ignite a pair of pajama pants in his driveway about 3:45 a.m., shortly before the fatal fire, the prosecutor said.
A fire investigator is expected to testify finding the shattered remains of two liquor bottles believed to be Molotov cocktails in the driveway of the Owen home and in the street nearby, the prosecutor said.
The investigator previously testified finding rolled-up paper towels in the neck of the bottles.
Owen's attorney told jurors his client was imitating a movie actor when he threw the bottles into the street. Courbois said they did not contain an accelerant like kerosene or gasoline.
Owen has denied setting the deadly fire but told police detectives he did play around with two Molotov cocktails that broke on the street.
Detectives have said they do not believe Owen started the blaze by throwing a firebomb into the couple's home.
If convicted of murder, Owen could spend the rest of his life in prison.
If, however, he is acquitted on the murder charges and convicted of arson, Owen would be sentenced as a youthful offender and could be released from a juvenile treatment facility five months after turning 18.
Testimony in the trial begins Friday.